Street parties, live entertainment, delicious food, lion dances, dragon boats and art and light installations will dazzle crowds at this year’s 16-day Sydney Lunar Festival starting this Saturday.
A first for the festival in its 27-year history will be an opening and closing ceremony for the dragon boat races which will go out with a bang as paddlers take over Dixon Street for a block party.
The City of Sydney today launched the festival program at the Chinese Garden of Friendship inviting Sydneysiders to what is the biggest Lunar Festival outside of Asia, running from 21 January to 5 February.
“This is one of Sydney’s best and most-loved festivals – a celebration of diversity, community and culture and a chance to ring in the Lunar New Year with hope and excitement,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“There are more than 80 events across the program ensuring there is something for everyone. With concerts, art exhibitions, workshops, walking tours and delicious banquets, I invite you all to come down and enjoy this fantastic festival.
“Our historic Chinatown was hit earlier and harder by the pandemic than other areas of the city, and given the challenges of the last few years we haven’t been able to hold the kind of Sydney Lunar Festival our communities have come to know and love.
“But we’re hopping into the year of the rabbit with a fabulous festival that will breathe new life into the area, helping businesses make the most of pent up demand and giving everyone a chance to come together and enjoy one of the highlights of our yearly calendar.”
Some of the key dates for events for the 2023 Sydney Lunar Festival are:
- Sydney Lunar Streets – 21 January: Live entertainment, roving performers, food trucks, market stalls and plenty of Instagram moments in Haymarket kick off the celebrations.
- Lunar New Year’s Day – 22 January: Celebrations continue with roving performances and lion dancing through the Haymarket precinct.
- Dragon boat racing opening ceremony – 27 January: Australian and Chinese cultures come together with a unique Taoist ceremony that blesses the waters and the traditional eye dotting that awakens the dragons for a safe weekend of racing.
- Dragon boat racing – 28 and 29 January: A thrilling event of racing with excited crowds watching the paddlers race to pounding drums.
- Dragon boats closing ceremony and street party – 29 January: DJs, lion dancing and medal presentations to celebrate a fun-filled weekend of action on the water.
- Lunar Spectacular Show – 4 February: Performers share their culture through dance, music, theatre, traditions and storytelling.
There will also be lion dancing every day in Haymarket and roving performances by artists every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival.
The festival will feature unique art by creatives drawing on traditional inspiration to tell their versions of what the Lunar New Year means to them.
Banner galleries on Alfred, George, Liverpool and Hay streets, as well as along Eddy Avenue, will bring touches of Korean, Japanese and Chinese culture to more parts of the city with contemporary and traditional interpretations. These galleries have been created by Yasuko Toda, Pei W Kwang, Si Yi Shen, Hyun Hee Lee and Nancy Liang.
Following the enormous success of the inaugural Neon Playground exhibition in Dixon Street, Haymarket HQ will reimagine its large format artistic gateways for Sydney Lunar Festival. The 2023 Auspicious Combination Character Series is created by Chinese Calligraphy artist Huang Ling Ye He exclusively for the festival.
Lunar gateways drawing on traditional Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese architectural features will stand tall on the corner of Campbell and George streets and the corner of Thomas and Hay streets.
Two colourfully vibrant ground-based lanterns designed by Meilun Gao and Yuxiao Wang will also light up the Haymarket heart of the festival.
Ten large illuminated plinths will show off exciting bunny artwork made by 36 young Sydneysiders, aged 6 to 12, along George Street. These were selected from more than 600 entries and will also be prominent along Dixon Street, complementing exciting illuminations that bring colour and social media moments to the heart of the festival.
“We’ve worked hard to create a diverse and exciting program schedule right across the 16 days of the Sydney Lunar Festival,” the City of Sydney’s Producer of Major Events and Festivals, Stephen Gilby said.
“We’ve combined centuries of culture and tradition into a modern festival that showcases all of the contributions these wonderful communities bring to our diverse city. I’m excited to see big crowds back enjoying everything our city has to offer, especially Haymarket.”
A comprehensive event listing can be found at sydneylunarfestival.com